A Mother Jones story on the Winn Parish Correctional Center blew up this weekend when a senior producer was arrested for trespass, apparently prompting a second reporter who had been working undercover as a guard to abandon the investigation.
According to a local news report from the Winn Parish Enterprise, James West was arrested Friday night after he was reportedly spotted on prison grounds filming with a drone. ["His license noted an address in New South Wales, Australia, but it is believed that he was here on assignment from New York," the paper reports.]
West went to the rural prison on Friday night. According to [Winn Parish Sheriff Cranford Jordan], guards noticed a man running from his vehicle toward the prison's fence. The man drove off when the guards approached, Jordan said, but the guards recorded the number on the vehicle's Texas license plate.
Deputies arrested West, an Australian, near the prison.
"An Australian with a Texas license plate in Louisiana runs some red flags," Jordan joked.
[Mother Jones co-editor] Monika Bauerlein denied that West did anything wrong and said West was within his rights to photograph..
"James was stopped by police while doing newsgathering in a public place and arrested when he refused to show the contents of his camera," she said.
West was released on a $10,000 bond Saturday, but the bigger revelation came Monday, when one recently hired prison guard—Shane Bauer (a Mother Jones senior reporter who once spent two years in an Iranian prison)—failed to show up for work.